Such an amazing experience! We were blessed to have one of our most influential ambassadors drop by the office yesterday and say “hi!” Erin Tharp came to visit the office and share with us her story and why she feels so compelled to spread the word about Free Wheelchair mission. When she was fourteen, she was stricken by an illness that took her from vibrant, young girl to being in a coma almost overnight.

“At one point things were so grave, she was not expected to live,” said Gary Tharp, her father. “When she did [survive], she was in a vegetative state. She went to a locked-in state and then to an awake, but non-responsive, state. She progressed to a cognitive state where she could track and respond [to outside stimuli]. There were many miracles along the way to get [there].” Now, at 28, Erin is fully aware but cannot walk or talk. She lives at home with her father and mother, Linda. Erin graduated in a wheelchair from Centennial in June 2001. A “self-confessed nerd,” she continues to take college classes “just for fun.”

And Erin has now made it her goal to serve others regardless of any challenges that would stand in her way. She looks only to the future and how she can make other people’s lives brighter. Erin has set her sights on helping people who need wheelchairs but live in developing countries and do not have the economic advantages she does to get them. She goes around and speaks to different churches about Free Wheelchair Mission and shares her story with any and all who will listen.

She is beautiful, inside and out, and all of us were honored by her presence at our offices yesterday! Thank you, Erin, for sharing your story and your smile with us—you inspire us!